Click here to read the course descriptions
Click here for answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about Summer Institute 2023
Friday August 4 – Tuesday August 8
Pearlstone Retreat Center in Reisertown, Maryland
Our theme for this year is ve-asafta וְאָסַפְתָּ “and you shall gather” which can refer to both gathering the community and to gathering in your “new grain, wine and oil” from Parshat Eikev (Deut 11:14). After a few years of being mostly apart, we want to think about all the ways in which we can “gather in.”
Summer Institute provides a unique opportunity for serious study, moving prayer, spirited conversation, late-night jam sessions, singing, dancing, and meditation – all in the company of people from a wide range of backgrounds. Each year, participants leave the Institute reinvigorated and excited to return to their home communities to share new ideas, skills, and experiences.
At the Summer Institute, every teacher is also a student and every student is a teacher. People who are usually called “rabbi” or “professor” throughout the year go by their first names here. And people who rarely take active leadership roles in their communities discover that they, too, can teach and contribute to the community.
One of the NHC Summer Institute’s greatest strengths is the diversity of its participants. We are musicians, doctors, students, furniture makers, retirees, Jewish professionals, homemakers, teachers, activists, and just about everything else:
- Intergenerational: At a previous Summer Institute, the youngest participant was a month and a half old, while we had 9 folks in our midst with the wisdom of over 80 years. Participants from all age groups shared meals, stories, teachings, songs, and talents.
- Pluralistic and Inclusive: The NHC Summer Institute includes people committed to various forms of traditional and non-traditional Jewish practice, Jews from birth, Jews by choice, Jews with multiple religious heritages, non-Jews, and people exploring Judaism.
- Diverse backgrounds and lives: NHC Summer Institute participants hold a variety of identities including LGBTQ and straight; people of color, Sephardi, Mizrachi and Ashkenazi; urban, rural, and suburban; Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist, Reform, Renewal, secular, and Jewish without labels.
- Learning for Everyone: NHC Summer Institute participants also have a variety of Jewish learning backgrounds, from those with no formal Jewish education to those with Ph.D.s in Talmud.The dynamic process of exploring together what Judaism and Jewishness means in our lives is a highlight of the Summer Institute.
What to expect at Summer Institute
At previous Summer Institutes, participants have led each other in a different menu of spirited prayer options in many styles, including traditional egalitarian with full Hebrew liturgy, plus meditative, movement, and musical services, with and without instruments, both indoors and outdoors. All minyanim organized and sponsored by the NHC are fully egalitarian, with equal participation regardless of gender or sexual orientation.
One way in which we share ourselves with each other at the Summer Institute is through short (approximately 45 minutes- an hour) workshops. Anyone can propose a workshop, and it’s a great place to try out a new idea or experiment with teaching and leading. This is a great way to share something with our community. Workshops can be presented in any format that the teacher/facilitator can imagine, from discussion to hevruta/paired learning to lecture to shared activity (e.g., group run).
At a prior Summer Institute, a toddler co-led a workshop on appreciating ants, concurrently with others’ workshop discussions of The Best (and Worst) of Big Biblical Epics, a trip to Budapest, Warsaw, and Krakow to study the legacies of the Jewish life, antisemitism, and resistance in these cities, Shabbat Menus for Busy People, Bhakti: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Lord, and Admission to Olam Haba: A Post-Temple Rabbinic Power Grab? Other options included Yiddish Dancing to Live Music and a Birth/Parenting Story Slam. And that was just one of 8 workshop slots during the week!
Courses are a central part of the Institute experience. This year, courses will meet in the morning and afternoon on Sunday and Monday. You can choose to take one 4-session course or two 2-session courses. Each course has a maximum of 20 students and is led by a teacher who is also an Institute participant, presenting material that they love in an inclusive style that encourages everyone to participate.
Each evening after dinner, the community gathers for programming as a large group. Some of these programs may be led by the Timbrel Artists in Residence, or the Liturgist in Residence. Some may be serious discussions of issues we want to engage with as a community. Some will be lighter-hearted ways to connect.
NHC is an intergenerational community NHC Kids Camp is a thriving and central part of our gathering. Kid’s Camp at this year’s institute will provide a place for children to have fun and build relationships with each other and the rest of the NHC community.
And whatever else you want to make happen!
In previous years, people have organized large group evening programs like talent shows and dance parties. Folks have coordinated a shuk where participants can display and sell their creations. And in the evening after the large-group program, there have been late-night programming which offer structured opportunities to enjoy each others’ company: making music (American folk singing, sharing niggunim, instrument jam session), playing games (board, card, improv), dancing (cardio, Israeli folk), singing along to movie musicals, additional studying, and other sorts of merry-making. All participants can volunteer to lead a program in their registration.
Looking to make contact with folks from your home geography? Are you an early riser who wants to circumnavigate campus with others before breakfast? Seeking support for building your crochet or Torah reading skills? Need a haircut? Put up a notice about your interest and where and when others can meet up with you. We are the ones who build our community! We are the ones who decide what that looks like!
REGISTER HERE: https://cvent.me/0gWm4e